A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Disney plans radical changes!
ALSO: Oh, Hello... it's a p'dcast!
On Sunday morning I took my dogs for a walk and went a different direction than one of our usual trips. We passed by a cinema. It’s one of the few Event Cinema chain theatres that I’m aware of that isn’t located in a large shopping centre. While the cinema is relatively close to my home, I’ll admit that I don’t usually go there - my relatively nice suburb backs against some pretty divey areas.
On this day, I found myself peaking into the window. Boy, do I miss going to cinemas. I had largely ritualised going. Every Saturday morning I’d make the effort to go and see something, then have a tidy lunch and wander on home. I liked the first session in the morning as the cinema was always empty. Often it’d just be me in the theatre. Occasionally I’d share it with my wife or that one other weirdo guy there by himself.
It was only on the weekends where there was NOTHING that I’d give my cinema trip a miss.
It seems that my longing for going into the cinema is something a number of people are feeling right now. I’ve seen a number of articles in the past 24 hours with writers wistfully remembering this activity from the before times.
The best take was from Owen Geiberman from Variety:
At home, we’re the masters of our domain. We seek out movie theaters because they’re the domains we’re not the masters of. When I became a film junkie at 17, the movie theater was my safe space, and the soothing cathartic excitement of the theater experience was every bit as important as the films I was discovering. Pauline Kael caught that feeling in the title of one of her books: “When the Lights Go Down.” When the lights go down in a theater (I’d say the contempo equivalent is: when the trailers end), you feel serene but adrenalized, suffused with the elation of possibility.
If you do miss the outside world and the idea of travelling, the return of The Amazing Race will now take on a fantasy porn feeling as you ponder what could be. A new season of the show has been in the can for some time now and will debut on TV May 20.
George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon have launched a podcast with the bad boys of broadcasting examining the death of Princess Diana.
There are two magnificent episodes out already from the usual places one gets a p’dcast from.
The Wonders are getting back together for charity. I’d be more keen on a Cap’n Geech and The Shrimp Shack Shooters reunion, but this should still be fun.
Last week Disney announced that it has 50 million plus paid subscribers for its streaming service Disney+. But that’s the only success story coming out of Disney right now. It seems like COVID-19 was purpose built to completely destroy everything that brings Disney money. Their theme parks are shut. Cinemas are shut. There are no new sporting events for cable channel ESPN. Oh… and there’s the issue with cruise ships.
(That’s right… Disney has branded cruise ships).
On the weekend was this interesting article from the NYT about not-exactly departed former CEO Bob Iger working behind the scenes to reconceive how Disney will operate when the stupid virus passes. Some of the ideas are radical, involving fewer staff, less office space, and other behind the scenes changes. Impacting TV is the idea that they’ll invest far less in the TV pilot season. Which makes absolute sense to me. Each years tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars is spent by TV networks producing one-off pilots that are never seen by the public.
This all means the company is losing as much as $30 million or more a day, the media industry analyst Hal Vogel estimated in an interview. The company borrowed $6 billion at the end of March, a sign both of its desperate plight and lenders’ confidence that it could rebound.
In an emergency like this, Mr. Iger said, he had no choice but to abandon his plan to pull back.
“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” he said in his email.